Alberta’s NDP Opposition is protesting a proposed UCP policy, calling it divisive.
The UCP constituency association of Lacombe-Ponoka is pushing for a new “voucher system” of funding in schools across the province.
That new system would see “equal per-student funding” to public, private and Catholic schools, “regardless of their school choice, free from caveats or conditions.”
The policy claims the current public school system is not providing adequate education in a number of areas including math, science, history and what it calls “human, civil and economic rights and responsibilities.”
It adds that “students are entering adulthood unemployable and increasingly radicalized by extremist ideologies.”
Jason Schilling, the president of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, said he finds the suggestions ironic.
“Alberta’s public education system already supports 95 per cent of the students in the system,” Schilling said Tuesday.
“That’s Catholic, Francophone and public schools. Ninety-five per cent of students are attending those schools.”
Schilling said Alberta is known for having one of the best education systems in the world, adding that a voucher system would produce inequities for rural schools and inevitably result in cuts to special program funding.
Sarah Hoffman, NDP education critic, echoed those concerns in Edmonton on Tuesday.
“Voucher education is an American-style system that is failing students in the United States,” Hoffman said.
“It will mean even more resources are taken out of Alberta classrooms.”
A spokesperson for Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said in a statement: “Our government committed to maintaining the longstanding education funding formula for independent school options, and Budget 2019 honours that commitment. At this time, we will not be commenting on a proposed policy resolution that has not yet been debated by the United Conservative Party.”
Ron Orr, the MLA for Lacombe-Ponoka, refused to comment on the issue, saying the policy was not from him or his office, but rather from the local constituency association.
Ken Weekinik, the association president, also refused to comment on his policy or what was meant by the term “extremist ideologies.”
The policy will be discussed at the party’s annual general meeting later this month in Calgary.